Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Having your heart outside of your body"

Listening to President Obama's speech in Newtown:

"You know, someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around.

"With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child, is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice, and every parent knows there’s nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet we also know that with that child’s very first step and each step after that, they are separating from us, that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them.

"They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Feeling out of humor

Reading this post made me feel incredibly sad. It reports on the apparent suicide of a nurse at the hospital where Kate Middleton, aka wife of Prince William, had been receiving care for severe morning sickness. The nurse had been pranked by two radio DJs posing as the Queen and Prince Charles, and transferred the call to another nurse directly involved in the Duchess' care.

As noted in one of the comments on the post, pranks like this  reveal what jerks the pranksters are and how accommodating the victims are. I think that is what makes me feel sad. We would expect and hope that a nurse would be helpful. So, why take that helpfulness and make it into an object of ridicule?

So, I am thinking about pranks and how they work and why audiences find them humorous. Pranksters and audiences know what the victims do not know - they are "in" on the joke. Could it be also that audiences laugh because they recognize that they could be the ones being pranked, and find relief, even superiority, in not being the victims? So that pranks can do quite a lot of harm because they cause us to identify - with and against. It encourages the opposite of empathy. Yet, it is all undertaken in the name of not only "entertainment," which is supposed to be too trivial to take seriously, but also more specifically of a good sense of humor, which is acceptable and even admirable.

BTW, I am wondering whether it makes a difference when the victims of pranks are otherwise not Just Like Us. Is it different to pull pranks on business or political leaders?